School Consolidation Supporters: Fiscally and Socially Ignorant

I often ponder to myself as to why the state of West Virginia still thinks it’s a bright idea to consolidate schools. It’s almost as if for the last 20 years, West Virginia has attempted to replicate the education system in the state that’s similar to New York’s and California’s.

Since the 1990s, WV has lost significant amounts of money after closing more than 300 schools. Between 1990 and 2002, due to consolidating schools, the state spent over $1 billion on consolidation.

In the last ten years, despite consolidation, there have been 41,000 fewer students enrolled in West Virginia schools.

Despite consolidation, which is supposed to be fiscally sustainable, counties statewide pay a much higher percentage of their budgets on maintenance and utilities now than they did five years ago.

In addition to that, West Virginia spends more dollars on transportation than any other state in the country; rising costs have forced counties to cut funding from classrooms and cafeterias.

According to studies performed by academics, consolidation is highly dangerous for low-income rural kids, for example, 57.6 percent of current Richwood High School students, according to a 2017 American Community Survey.

Also, we can’t forget about the younger children living in Richwood; They could potentially be more hurt than us current students. More than 47 percent of children age 5 and under that reside in Richwood live below the national poverty level; 63.8 percent of children between age 5 and seventeen live below the national poverty level.

Along with that, according to another study, these low-income students and the community as an aggregate suffer the most from losing their tight-knit community schools. In a Yale University study, it was concluded that consolidation damages the well-being of students, especially the near 8,000 students in the state of West Virginia who have to ride a bus for more than 2 hours each school day. The study found that bus fumes are a potential reason as to why childhood asthma in West Virginia is rising at a rapid pace. Students who ride buses breathe five to fifteen times more soot, a substance consisting mostly of amorphous carbon, than children who don’t.

To conclude, it’s evident that school consolidation kills the majority of people in each county and strengthens a tiny minority of people in those specific counties. It’s also apparent that school consolidation in West Virginia is fiscally irresponsible, kills small communities, and helps give rise to the people who don’t need it.

Before implying the false implication that school consolidation in Nicholas County is a good move, make sure to ask yourself, “What would truly happen if two separate, different, and unequal schools merged into one?” You’ll find yourself recognizing that school consolidation in Nicholas County isn’t fiscally sustainable, will kill the great town of Richwood, and will give much more, quite frankly, too much more power to the ruling class of Nicholas County.

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Jharad K. McClung-Lester

Jharad K. McClung Lester is the founder of The Richwood Leader. He's a bi-weekly columnist at the Rogue Review, and has words published in the Charleston Gazette, Lone Conservative, and FlipSide News.
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